Chicago Cubs: Baez powers Cubs, Lester cruises to win
The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds concluded their three-game set Thursday as the offense powers way to sweep. Jon Lester lasts six, baffles Reds hitters.
What offensive slump?
Just as the first two games of the series played out, the Chicago Cubs brought their lumber to the yard for a Thursday matinee versus the Cincinnati Reds Thursday at Wrigley.
Jon Lester (1-2, 3.45 ERA), dominant at home his last 14 coming in, took the ball for the Cubs opposite starter Amir Garrett (3-2, 4.25).
Big bats bash Reds
The scoring for the North Siders got started in the first inning when shortstop Addison Russell — remember when he was struggling? — walked with the bases loaded to bring in Kris Bryant, who walked on his first trip to the plate.
Moments later, the big blow came when Javy Baez hammered a pitch left high in the zone for a grand slam to put the Cubs up 5-0.
From Lester’s vantage point, the lefty looked as good as he has all season.
Backed behind a big lead from the start, he was able to shake off just three hits allowed through the first three innings without damage.
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Bryant joined the long ball party in the fourth inning, knocking out his eighth home run of the season to put the Cubs ahead 6-0.
Lester even helped his own cause at the plate, bringing in a run by virtue of a sac fly. The nine runs scored on the day is a season high with Lester on the mound.
Today marked his second win of the season.
Everything on display
Chicago’s three-game sweep over the Reds is the first sweep of the season for the defending champs. An all-around effort, the lineup provided one if its finer days offensively, and Jon Lester excelled on the mound.
Lasting into the seventh, Lester pitched arguably his best game all season. Allowing three runs on six hits, he walked one and struck out five.
Hector Rondon came into the game in the seventh inning with runners on and had trouble setting the Reds down quietly.
Through one inning, Rondon allowed three hits, one earned — two runs tacked onto Lester’s line — and struck out one.
Brian Duensing pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Koji Uehara earned his first save to seal the 9-4 Cubs victory.
Next: Ian Happ is making it hard to send him back to Iowa
Chicago begins a new series against the Milwaukee Brewers with a matinee game Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Right-hander Eddie Butler (1-0, 0.00 ERA) starts for the Cubs and right-hander Paolo Espino is slated to make his MLB debut for the Brewers. First pitch is at 1:20 p.m. CT.